Discourses of Disability and Sexuality: Barriers to Sexual Citizenship

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Jenner, Ginger
Disability and Sexuality , Discourses of Disability , Discourses of Sexuality , Sexual Citizenship , Biopolitics
This project brings together two areas of discussion that are often avoided or completely denied: disability and sexuality. This thesis will employ a disability studies framework to understand the barriers that prevent disabled people from being sexually active citizens. I begin my looking to the historical, political, and cultural construction of disabled people’s sexuality as a problem. Next, I take a cross-cultural perspective. I provide a cultural history of disability and sexuality in 20th Century Denmark. Disability and disabled people’s sexual practices were once medicalized and institutionalized in Denmark. With social reform, the discourse changed, seeing the fundamental relationship between disability and sexuality normalized. I contrast this experience with Canadian policy and legislation, that continues to deny individuals with disabilities their status as sexual citizens. By examining the Immigration Act of 1910 and the Sterilization Act of 1928, I argue that colonial biopower segregated and aimed to eradicate minority groups from its goal of a pure Canadian state. I suggest these practices influence present-day policy. I find this discourse present a guide to sexual education that has been produced by the Government of Ontario, for parents of adolescents with developmental disabilities. Here disability remains an object of fear, danger, and something best avoided. This project ends by arguing for a critical movement encompassing disabled Canadians and the support necessary to achieve sexual status. I conclude with some recommendations to affirm sexuality for all, in both policy and pedagogy to come.
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